CARE Learning Tour to Ethiopia by Morgana Wingard

Narrated by Kojo Nnamdi of the Kojo Show

Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Yet, the inability to access food and proper nutrition remains a reality in many communities. Ten percent of the population suffers from chronic food insecurity. 85 percent of Ethiopians are dependent on subsistence agriculture. Its fast-growing population and dependence on subsistence agriculture puts tremendous pressure on the land and natural resources that are the cornerstones for the country's growth.

During a four-day CARE Learning Tour, we visited several U.S.-supported programs that are feeding millions of people throughout the country and helping people to feed themselves. Around the world there are more than 850 million people who do not have enough to eat. Most of them are women and girls.

The United States government is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa, providing over $1.8 billion since 2011. Despite the best of intentions, we learned that American food aid can be slow to reach people in need, inefficient, and not cost effective.  On average, U.S.-grown emergency food aid can take more than two months longer to reach its destination than locally procured food aid.  Local and regional procurement is a lower cost alternative and a more efficient method for virtually all U.S. food aid commodities.

This trip gave us an opportunity to witness how smart, strategic, and coordinated emergency food and nutrition initiatives create long-term food security and boost local economies.  With this experience, we hope to continue to be a voice for the poor and continue the fight with CARE to end global hunger.

Ethiopia: Saving Livelihoods by Morgana Wingard

Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Yet, the inability to access food and proper nutrition remains a reality in many communities. 2.7 Million people in Ethiopia need food assistance. That’s the size of the population of Chicago.

Recently I flew to Ethiopia with the poverty-fighting organization CARE to see first hand how purchasing locally is boosting the local economy and increasing food security in the region.

The United States government is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa, providing over $1.8 billion since 2011. Despite the best of intentions, we learned that American food aid can be slow to reach people in need, inefficient, and not cost effective. On average, U.S.-grown emergency food aid can take more than two months longer to reach its destination than locally procured food aid.  Local and regional procurement is a lower cost alternative and a more efficient method for virtually all U.S. food aid commodities.

The World Food Program's new initiative, Purchase for Progress (P4P) is working with the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) to buy produce from local farmers for their food aid programs. In 2012 33,000 smallholder farmers represented by 17 cooperative unions participated in P4P. Since 2010, P4P has purchased nearly 55,000 metric tons of haricot beans and maize for use in all WFP programs in Ethiopia, generating over US $16 million for Ethiopian smallholders as a result.

As a technical experts said in one of our briefing, "Food aid is not about saving lives. It's about saving livelihoods." Purchasing commodities for food aid in Africa is not only saving lives, it's also saving the livelihoods of local farmers and increasing regional food security.

Words Mightier Than The Sword by Morgana Wingard


(Our latest piece for Forbes Africa with Clair MacDougal)

By Clair MacDougal

"I like to talk to the common people, I don’t like politics.”

Mae Azango sits on the edge of her bed in her old home that is wedged in a rocky enclave between the gray United States embassy and the modern apartments occupied by expatriate workers in Mamba Point, the poshest part of Monrovia, Liberia. Azango’s larger-than- life personality fills every inch of the dim, cramped, lemon-colored room where she lives with her 11-year-old daughter, Madasi. Within five minutes Azango has hijacked the interview and is yelling out the story of how she came to be one of the best-known female journalists in Liberia. Without a hint of irony, Azango refers to herself in the third person, claims to be a household name and universally feared by Liberia’s political establishment; then announces to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that she will never compromise herself by taking a job from her. { Read the full article below }

Liberia's motorbike taxi ban cuts accidents, but revs up other problems by Morgana Wingard

Musa Sayee Konneh stands on a street corner in Monrovia amid a fleet of parked motorbikes, with faded Liberian dollars folded around his middle finger. On a good day, grubby bills would fan from his hands. But since the government banned motorbike taxis from the capital city's main roads this month, Konneh's work has been curtailed. So far today he has earned just 90 Liberian dollars (70p) for half a day's work, a quarter of his usual take.

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Accountability in Liberia: How the music industry is creating change by Morgana Wingard

By: Blair Glencorse, Accountability Lab Executive Director, and Nora Rahimian, Hip Co organizer. This post was originally published by ONE.

“If we don’t speak up against the ills in society, who will?” asks Takun J, Liberia’s Hip Co King, in front of thousands of screaming fans at a concert in Monrovia. He then launches into “Police Man” a song about police corruption, which several years ago had the artist arrested and beaten by the authorities.

Hip Co – which emerged in the 1980s – blends hip hop with Liberian English.  Born in the streets, the music has always been inherently political, making it especially popular with young people who can relate to both its catchy beats and African rhythms and its messages of struggle and change. The annual Hip Co Festival recently attracted over 20,000 Liberians for two days of concerts in different parts of Monrovia; and artists like Takun J and Nasseman are national celebrities within the growing music industry.

Accountability Lab has teamed up with 12 of the most prominent Hip Co artists, producers, DJs and radio personalities (including Takun JNassemanJD DonzoShining Man and JB of the group Soul FreshLil BishopDr. CSantosBlackest 305Uncle ShaqPicardor, and Pochano) to form the Hip Co Accountability Network.

“The people, they listen to us.  And we, as musicians, we have a responsibility to talk about these things, the corruption, rape, poverty… all the things that are wrong in our country.  So we knew we had to come together to strengthen our voice and make ourselves heard, to better impact our society,” Takun J explained.

The Lab is supporting creative, low-cost tools to make decision-makers more responsible and build accountability in Libera, with an emphasis on concrete actions and movement away from tired, expensive, aid driven approaches.

Many of these artists already have a history of working on accountability issues.  Many have written songs against corruption and have been vocal about the changes they’d like to see in their country.  Rather than replicating their work, the Network is working on the core accountability issues that impact the music industry the artists are part of. These include strengthening and enforcing copyright laws to protect their music, establishing minimum play laws to ensure local music does not get overlooked, and mobilizing artists to create effective mechanisms to represent their interests.

Events like the Hip Co Festival help establish an infrastructure for the growing music industry while also giving artists a platform to spread their message.  In addition to radio and television appearances and, increasingly, social media, concerts are the main mode of communication between hip co artist and their fans.

The Lab has been helping the artists to think about and discuss experiences from other countries that might be relevant, such as the Y’En A Marre movement in Senegal’s music industry. The network now meets weekly to discuss the issues, strategise and plan next steps.

There is a long way to go, but the network has created a real sense of positive movement. As Pochano points out “We can’t wait for the government to do everything. We have a voice and we need to lead change in our society.”

Listen to more of the Hip Co Accountability Network’s music on their Soundcloud page; and see photos on the Lab’s Facebook page. Follow Blair at @accountlab and Nora at @norarahimian.

Also checkout the article, Battle Hymns, on HIPCO and the festival in The Economist.

It's Archel by Morgana Wingard

Recently, I got to partner with the talented Archel Bernard, a Liberian fashion designer, to do a photo shoot of some of her unique designs.  Here's some of my favorite shots from the shoot. To view the rest of her collection and order her amazing designs online, visit

A little about the talented Archel:

Archel was born in the States. Her family left Liberia because of the war when she was 1 in December ’89. She attended university at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA and returned to Liberia as a part of her last course for graduation. She arrived with the dream of being the African Oprah Winfrey. She wanted to be the journalist that showed the diverse lifestyle Africans could have, and part of that was wearing African clothes for every video segment. She started using a popular tailor in Monrovia to make her clothes, and although she was good, she would take forever to make her dresses, and then would sell her styles to other clients. The last time she went to her for a dress, she saw her in a copy, a customer in a copy, and another one being made on the table. Archel decided to stop helping the tailor make money from her designs and go into business for herself by making dresses and selling them in the States. After a while, friends in Liberia saw the styles and wanted her to do a few for them, so it grew from there. She wasn't employed so it was great to be able to invest in work for herself.

She decided to return to Liberia because her grandfather passed away a month before and she was set to graduate. He refused to leave Liberia for a bulk of the war, so he was her main connection to her home country. He was a serious businessman, and the move back was a way for me to connect with him and realize his vision for his family.

Fashion in Liberia is exciting because of how creative Liberians are, and how excited women are to work and own their own businesses. Every time she turns around there is a new business led by a new female designer whose perspective is different from the last. No one is making the same outfits from 50 years ago. No one is waiting to be told what to wear by the Europeans or other Africans. Liberian women are excited to wear fun, comfortable, sexy clothes and turn heads no matter where they go. Women are leading this new interest in fashion and she’s excited to have a part of rebuilding Liberia through her shop.

Ethiopia: Farm to Cup by Morgana Wingard

As a native Seattlite, the birth place of Starbucks, I love my coffee. Recently, I had the opportunity to see first hand the origins of world renowned Ethiopian coffee and how strategic agriculture initiatives in Ethiopia are improving food security in the region.  I was photographing for CARE on a trip with policy makers and a production team from The Kojo Nnamdi show to learn a little about food aid reform and the giant efforts of the U.S. government in collaboration with the Ethiopian government. As a photographer, I typically see the story -- looking for light and scenes that can tell the tale in a single image. This time I was in for a treat. Watching and talking to Kayla and Michael of the Kojo show, I learned to open my ears and hear the story. Now, I'll never be as good as they are at discovering and capturing the intricate sounds of coffee sipping and trading floor bells, but it sure is fun to have amazing audio to compliment my photos. I can't tell you how many times I wish I had a recorder to capture something a speaker said that I knew I'd forget before I could write it down.  Listen to the links below to hear about the photos above and how U.S. investments and the Ethiopian government are increasing food security in the region through business and trade.

First Shots in a War on Corruption by Morgana Wingard

Photos from my latest project with Clair MacDougal for Forbes Africa. 

Peaceful Mayhem: Celebrating Epiphany in Ethiopia by Morgana Wingard

Thanks to news media we've become accustomed to images of raging, violent mobs in foreign countries. Just today watching Al Jazeera in my hotel room in Addis, they broadcasted a pack of enraged Muslims in Central African Republic pursuing a Christian man hiding for his life inside a shanty. The final scene ended with your worst nightmare. 

Sadly, the news media rarely depicts the beauty and positive across the world. I'm thankful for friends and family who worry for my safety when I travel, yet I'm oddly trusting (especially for a tiny girl who looks like she's 12). Perhaps I'm naive, but after traveling through nearly 30 countries, I have to admit I run into more people who look out to help me than who look out to get me.  

Yesterday, I lost myself in a sea of religious enthusiasts parading through the streets of Addis. Every year on January 19th, Orthodox Ethiopians celebrate Epiphany -- the day Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. Thousands of participants dress in traditional white frocks and ornate, priestly robes before they walk, dance, and sing in a swarming parade through the streets.

From the outside, this moving mass resembles the all too common crowds that flash across major news networks. On the inside, it was quite the opposite. Ethiopians, usually dubious of cameras, welcome the lens on this day. Instead of being caste out to the banks of the river of bodies, they pulled me into their celebratory circles. It was one of my favorite days of photographing ever -- even after I lost the rest of our crew. Despite the chaos, I felt safe. My gut was right. With much help along the way, my cameras and I made it safely back to the hotel despite getting lost in the crowd. 

Need Aerial Photography in Liberia?? by Morgana Wingard

Do you need awe-inspiring images of your project to impress that potential curmudgeon, waffling investor? Or scenic scapes documenting the progress of your work for your annual report? Or images to impress for your website or promo brochure to drive clients by the droves to your new resort? Nothing can capture your mining, construction, or real estate, project like the unique view from the air. From poster shots of completed projects to monthly progress reports, we provide unique top-quality photography to meet your marketing and fundraising needs in-country so you don’t have to pay to fly in a film crew from oversees.    

If you're interested in aerial photography in Liberia, contact Morgana at or 0888102601 for more information.

The Diffusion of Justice by Morgana Wingard

Everett Rogers defined the first theory of change in his 1962 book Diffusion of Innovations. His acclaimed communication book describes the process by which a society adopts new, transformative behaviors. It divides the process into four main elements that spread the new idea: the innovation, communication channels, time, and a social system. One of his key findings reported in the book is that the primary communication channel for the diffusion of innovations is interpersonal relationships. Ultimately, communication between individuals -- conversations over coffee, barbershop talk, a beer at the bar where thoughts and experiences are shared -- multiplies into a critical mass of people adopting a new behavior that revolutionizes an innovation from rare to common. When the innovation is widely adopted, then it becomes self-sustainable. 

Liberia at the end of 2013 is considered to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International. This begs the question, "How do you develop a culture of justice that passes out bribes like New Yorkers drink coffee?" According to Everett -- one person at a time. It starts with innovators (typically 2.5% of the population) who lead the early adopters (13.5%) who multiply to the early majority (34%), then the late majority (34%) and finally the laggards (16%).  

Thomas Tweh is one of those innovators. 

For many Liberians living in the low-income, high-density neighborhoods of Monrovia, life is a daily struggle. Land disputes, drug problems, domestic abuse, and a lack of basic services, among other issues, are pervasive.

When citizens face legal challenges, the lack of legitimacy, affordability, accessibility and timeliness of the formal justice system often prevents any feasible recourse. Extensive bureaucratic red tape coupled with transportation and legal costs, lawyer fees, and opportunity costs of foregone work make the justice system not only physically but also financially unavailable to many.

The judiciary and police were recently ranked as the most corrupt set of institutions in the country by the government itself – which not only undermines any sense that wrong-doing will be punished but has hollowed out trust in public processes more broadly. As one citizen pointed out to us recently: “There is simply no justice for the poor.”

Thomas Tweh, a community leader in the West Point neighborhood, had an innovative idea to resolve these justice issues at the local level. His plan was not to avoid or override the formal justice system, but to collaborate with the police and commissioner’s office to refer cases downwards from the courts to a community dispute resolution mechanism run by volunteer mediators.

“The key to this is that the disputes are resolved in accountable and sustainable ways,” Thomas told us. The outcome was to be a process that merged formal and informal tools for accountability and justice in a way that was seen to be fair and equitable by the community, and which saved time, money and effort.

With the Accountability Lab’s backing – in the form of accountability and rule of law training, management support, minimal seed funding and networking opportunities – Thomas and his project co-leader John Kamma developed a Community Justice Team of 8 volunteer mediators. The team has now worked with hundreds of citizens and sustainably resolved over 60 cases, ranging from domestic violence to land disputes – each with carefully written records taken by a trained notary and with the full cooperation of local authorities. Beyond the thousands of dollars and weeks of time saved, the Community Justice Team has started to build a sense of accountability, cooperation, and trust in the community. We are now talking to both the Ministry of the Interior and the Justice Ministry in Liberia about next steps.




Monrovia Fashion Week: Myric by Morgana Wingard

Note to self: When you don't have lights use headlights from motorcycles and cars. No photography lights. All natural or automobile sources for these ones!

  • Designer: Myric
  • Model: Anais Markquette & Frances Adorowa
  • Hair: Palmera Design
  • Make-Up: Ayo Brown
  • Photography: Morgana Wingard


Monrovia Fashion Week: Le Mirage by Morgana Wingard

I've secretly always wanted to do fashion. Today my dreams came true. And not just fashion, but African fashion. I played with a few friends organizing Monrovia Fashion Week 2013. Reminds of my senior year in college at TPM when we'd procrastinate studying for finals by doing elaborate photo shoots. There's nothing more thrilling and exciting than the collaboration of talented artists. Enjoy... and look out for more information about Monrovia Fashion Week in December. 

  • Designer: Le Mirage
  • Models: Akouavi Tehoungue & Yacine Jamal
  • Hair: Palmera Design
  • Make-Up: Ayo Brown
  • Photography: Morgana Wingard


The Daily Talk by Morgana Wingard

 In 2000 Alfred Sirleaf unfolded his chalkboard newspaper flanking Tubman Boulevard in Monrovia, Liberia for the first time. Since then, Alfred has posted important, relevant news stories in colloquial language and images for thousands of locals and expats to read daily. By informing citizens of their rights and responsibilities without the negligent gossip cluttering local papers, the Daily Talk empowers citizens to serve as a check against corruption.

Between calls from various news sources on his black Nokia cell phone, Alfred energetically demonstrates how he folds and rotates the chalkboard inside a plywood hut and methodically writes the latest news with strategic shades of Giotto Robercolor chalk. He is a walking encyclopedia on the history of Liberia. As he crouches inside the hut, he explains the photograph of the week -- an image of a man with his hands tied behind his back. "During the time of civil unrest in Liberia, the rebels introduced Tie-bay. It's a french word, but we have to spell it in Liberian way."  He carefully washes a corner of the board with a wet clothe and opens his tool box of Giotto Robercolor chalk to update the corner with the latest story. 

Alfred's chalkboard newspaper is still open thanks in part to Accountability Lab -- an organization in Liberia with a mission to cultivate citizen participation and develop innovative tools to fight corruption and demand accountability. Their Accountapreneurship Funds support projects like the Accountability Film School and a text message system enabling students at the University of Liberia to anonymously report problems at the school.  Accountability Lab is currently helping Alfred empower thousands of more Liberians by building a second chalkboard in Red Light -- a swarming market neighborhood in Monrovia.